Currently // April 2020: There Is No Normal

April is the cruellest month, breeding 
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

— T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

April is my favorite month of the year. It’s the month I was born in and the month the earth and nature warm and begin to come alive again. April is a month of resurrection, of renewal, of hope. April is the light at the end of the long tunnel that is winter, but this April was none of that. Yes, the sun warmed, and the leaves began to sprout, but our hearts stayed locking inside as if winter had never ended.

The novel coronavirus pandemic continued to worsen across the globe and much of the world sheltered in place somewhere in the spectrum between voluntary and strict lockdown orders. Schools all over the world have shuttered for the year and many are making drastic changes already to their calendars and curriculums for the 20-21 year. We’re all looking at a changed world but nothing is certain and nothing will be set in stone for a very long time to come.

This April then was one inverted from what it ought to have been then. Instead of hope, we felt fear. Instead of emerging into a bright, lively, and connected world, we slipped further into isolation, depression, and anxiety. Instead of coming to life, we set our sights on mere survival and asked the very bare minimum from one another just to stay sane and safe. This April has truly and literally been the cruelest month.

But not all is lost to despair and to find spring again you only have to look out your window, go for a walk, unplug, or call a friend. Through the worst crises in recent history, we have come together. You may not see it but you can certainly feel it all around you in the cooperation of those who stay home and in the courage it takes for our most essential workers not too. In the end, the human race is a force if not of good or pure determination and we can do so much more than we imagine. April has been proof of that, at least.

As for me, it’s has been hard, but it has been far from catastrophic. I am still practicing strict social distancing and doing my best to keep from wallowing too much in misery or falling too far into self-pity. I’m balancing the pressure to be productive with permission to idle. I’m working to be mindful, to find joy, to be grateful, and to banish guilt. These are absurd times we are living in and there is no right or normal way to feel, react, or be. Gentleness, patience, and persistence is all we need.

April has at the very least given me time to think and prioritize. I think I have taken myself much too seriously in the past and this has been a grave hindrance to my progress. Perfection has been the enemy of any good I hoped to do. Knowing I am not perfect has kept me from trying but what I need to know was that being good at something has nothing at all to do with enjoying something and joy is what I intend to pursue through my writing going forward. I’m reviving an old goal of writing one essay and week and working out a way to reach it through small, enjoyable, fulfilling actions every day.

But before I start, here is what I am currently:

Writing essays and poems. Not one every day, but working on one every day. There is a difference, and the latter is a much better fit to the kind of writer I think I am. I like to dive a little deeper, express more emotion, and find hidden connections, and I’d like to do that a lot more but the pressure to be a blogger who posts daily is high and rather than fail I’ve often opted not to even try. In April I tried a little harder to do things my way. I did write a few pieces in a day, but there were a lot of pieces that I am still working through, and that’s okay. The goal is to finish the drafts by working on them every day, and that’s all I’m asking of myself.

Making an effort every day. I know it sounds like I’m doing a lot or that I have such big goals and aspirations but every day is a struggle and at the end every day feels like a fresh failure. When I was a kid my mom, when lecturing me about my grades would tell me that if a failure had been my best, then she wouldn’t be mad, and then she would look me in my eye and ask me if I did my best and so many times I said no and knew my failure had been on me. I’m asking myself that question now and I’m seeing too many of those same old answers. An effort, that’s all I’m asking anymore.

Planning everything. These past few months I’ve started a new to-do list and logbook system based on a system by Jeff Huang using Google’s docs, calendar, tasks, and keep products. Events and to-do items start out in the calendar. I add them as they come up or pop into my head. Recurring tasks like daily Spanish lessons and reading goals are added to the tasks list. Notes and ideas are added to the keep app all day long. Then, every night, at least, I open the to-do list document and write a few lines about what I did or felt that day. Afterward, I review the calendar, tasks list, and notes in the sidebar and type out all the things I want to do the next day in the document. It has been very helpful, and I have done more this past month than I have in the past year perhaps, but it still needs tweaking.

Reading Borne by Jeff VanderMeer. April was not a great reading month. At the end of March and through the first few weeks of this month I was making a lot of progress but trying to write more ate up time and feeling down when I couldn’t ate up even more. I watched way too much TV, slept in more than I’d like, and simply gave up trying. But that’s only half the excuse. Borne is also boring me a little. It’s interesting but a little too sci-fi to allow me to suspend as much belief and required and I end up putting it back down after only a few pages. I’m not a reader who can bring myself to quit though, so I have to push harder in May. No more excuses.

Watching Mrs. America. The show, starring Cate Blanchett as Phyllis Schlafly and Phyllis Schlafly as Gloria Steinem, follows the women’s rights movement of the early 70s and the struggle to pass and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment against a growing conservative women’s opposition. I’m also all caught up with Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I’m still as confused and thrilled with Westworld as ever. I’m losing interest in Killing Eve fast. Insecure is still making me laugh, and old episodes of Six Feet Under are keeping me entertained in between.

Learning about The Science of Well-Being and tips on writing Memoir and Personal Essay. The Science of Well-Being is interesting, but I felt I wasn’t getting the most out of it without access to a printer for the handout and “rewirements”. Luckily we were able to borrow my wife’s desk printer from her workplace and the hurdle was quickly cleared. I would have made more progress through Memoir and Personal Essay, but I got stuck on the first assignment trying to work out an idea that perfectly fit the prompt. From now on, I’ll focus on doing my best writing and take the prompts and strong suggestions only.

Anticipating returning to work. Everything is going to be different from the role I play to the way I work. The promotion I was offered in March has only just been finalized this past week but it means when I do go back to work I will be doing a bit of a different job and under very different social norms. Already there is talk about wearing mask and gloves all day and working one on one during our training classes rather than in groups of 3 or 4. My work is going to become a lot more tedious and a lot more emotionally draining and will take a lot of strength and enthusiasm from me. I’m looking forward to new challenges.

Reflecting on what I am learning about myself during this time. Looking back over the past six weeks or so I can see how much I have done to take care of myself and work out my own needs and goals and there is so much I’d like to go on doing and being once this is over. I’ve already mentioned the writing, but there’s more to it than that. It’s the focus and the direction. It’s the passion and the emotion I am trying to harness. I’m learning that I have to dig deeper and the roadblocks are showing me something too. I need more life. I need to do more, live more, talk more, learn more. So much has changed already and so much more is going to change too and for the first time, instead of being afraid I’m excited.

Fearing that these economically motivated calls and initiatives to reopen the country will win out over the value of human life and undo all the hard work we’ve done and sacrifices we’ve made to flatten the curve and save lives. I’m afraid capitalism will win and no changes at all will be made to protect worker’s rights, well-being, or safety. I’m afraid of the widespread homelessness and hunger I feel approaching on the horizon if those with the means and the power don’t muster the courage or the imagination and compassion to adjust their priorities and reshape the world while we have the chance. I’m afraid voters will forget all too quickly or misplace their blame and anger and allow the status quo to continue unabated.

Hating how quickly major brands and corporations were able to create advertising campaigns to pull at the heartstrings and capitalize on the pandemic. From car manufactures and dealers to home colon cancer testing kits, every commercial I see now tries too hard to pry their way into our pockets by forcing a narrative of understanding, compassion, and connection. I’d care and identify with a company much more if I saw a commercial that simply said what they are doing to help save lives, not how they’ve made it easier for them to continue to take my money.

Loving my friends and family more than ever. I miss them all so much, though I haven’t been the best at showing it. It’s always been hard for me to reach out to the people I care about and it’s always been hard, I believe, for them to reach out to me, but it’s never frustrated me or hurt me as much as it does now. For a while I was wallowing in a lot of self-pity over it but this week I’ve started to shift my perspective from a self centered and victim centered on to one of gratitude. I am hurt because I love and am loved in return. I feel lonely because before this pandemic I was so rich in warmth and community. It’s up to me to maintain that community, so re-establish community and lessen my feelings of isolation.

Needing nothing at all. I’m one of the lucky ones and to ask for anything more right now when so many are losing everything feels wrong. I am content as I am, which what I have. I ask nothing from others or the universe and only from myself. I need more from me, for me, and perhaps for others too. I certainly haven’t given enough in any sense of the word. Perhaps what I need then is to donate, to offer my time and money, to find a way to help that is more than just getting out of the way. I need to know, when this is all over, that I did something.

Hoping that life doesn’t just go back to normal after all of this. If we simply carry on like nothing happened, then this will have all been a terrible and tragic waste. We are so much better than we give ourselves credit for and we can be so much better than we imagine. We’ve seen that, haven’t we? We’ve proven it, surely, so let’s do better and be better. I hope that people all over the world who have lost jobs, healthcare, and stability remember what was needed when it comes time to vote and I hope that those who profited from the pandemic or who would like to profit when it ends, remember that our memory is long and clear. We won’t stand for the way it “used to be”. Either you are for the people or you will find the people are no longer for you.


So, yeah, all in all, April, though isolating and often terrifying, was full of some very big wins. My wife and I, our loved ones and friends, and even our pets are all safe and healthy, working or at least being paid, and the future is still bright and life is still worth living. I have learned something, written some things, rested, and reflected. That’s more than I have been able to ask of any month in years. I know it could all end in the blink of an eye and I am watchful for that other shoe to drop.

But what about you? Are you and your loved ones staying home? Staying safe? Staying sane? Are you working in person? At home? At all? Do you think we are ready to restart the world? How do you think the world should change now that we have had a glimpse of how vulnerable we all really are?

Let me know in the comments.


The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Currently // April 2019: Showing Myself Some Appreciation

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.” 

― T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land

April is my favorite month despite its unpredictable weather and its many obligations. In fact, it’s my favorite month because of its unpredictability and its obligations. There may still be blizzards and dreary days but April brings sunshine, warmth, and the first thunderstorms of the year too and the obligations are all self-imposed. April is my birthday month and I insist on making the most of it, even if I’m the one who has to make all the plans.

This year I spent my big day at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science perusing the new Leonardo da Vinci exhibit with my fiance and that night we steamed crab legs and grilled artichokes for dinner. Other memorable moments included a night out eating Hawaiian barbeque and book shopping with my youngest sister and an Easter/birthday brunch with my mom, my sister, my brother and his family. I had a wonderful dinner with my dad and his wife too and there is still a big bash planned with friends in the coming weeks.

April is more than just a birthday month to me though. It is also a month of hope. It is the true month of love, of fresh starts, of new beginnings, for me anyway, usually, and at first, this month was all of that, but things changed very quickly. Mid-month I lost my motivation and fell back into old ways. I fell back into a kind of winter where gray skies loomed and the cold froze my bones where I lay.

Perhaps that is the nature of the season, though, particularly in this part of the world, where spring isn’t all sunshine and gentle rain showers. Here, spring is just a time when winter and summer agree to alternate days. Here, in April, there were days I could love, days I could come alive and begin, and days when I was lulled back into hibernation.

And now May has come, the month when the year has become what it is going to be and there is nothing left to do but wait for its end. There are more surprises to come, sure, but the time for radical change has ended. In May we begin to grow from where we have fallen.

But before I do, here is what I am currently…

Writing notes. I’m so focused on simply learning right now that there hasn’t been time to gather my thoughts into something organized, coherent, and wholly my own, yet. I have drafts of essays, posts, and larger poems too but I work on them in starts and stops in piecemeal and without clear direction. I feel I can’t move forward without knowing more so I’m pursuing facts, perspectives, noting the ways they resonate, connect, and inspire me and make that the basis of my new work. I’m still keeping a journal, though even that needs to be done better. 

Making up for lost time. This month’s productivity was marred by more than a week of depression-like symptoms. I was fatigued, irritable, and unmotivated. I stopped enjoying the things I normally love to do and my sense of self-worth plummeted. As a result, nearly nothing was accomplished. I’m trying not to feel too down about it or be too hard on myself and instead focus on what I can do now to make it up and make it right.

Planning my wedding and not much else. There isn’t room for anything else! With the big day less than three months away we are really panicking now. We’re terrified and excited. We’re worried that nothing will be done in time and that the result won’t be what we hoped. The goals for this month are to complete rentals, attire, and plan for our out-of-town guests. We met with a planner too with the hopes that she can take some of the weight off of our minds and point us in the right direction when we get lost.

Anticipating summer vacation. We have less than a month until school is out and even though I still have to work and I still have to plan a wedding to plan the work will get easier and the wedding will get closer and closer to done. Plus, since the kids will be off I’ll get to spend my days doing new and different kinds of work and staving off boredom and burnout. I’ll get to meet the kids again come August with renewed enthusiasm and energy. 

Reading Notes from Underground, The Double and Other Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This book has been a real pain to get through and has set me back pretty far from where I hoped to be in my 2019 reading goal by now. It isn’t that I don’t like the book. It’s just not a fun read. It’s tiresome and monotonous. There aren’t any stunning setting descriptions or compelling bits of dialog, but there are some important ideas I want to understand. So I’m not giving up and hopefully by this time next month I’ll have finished and moved well on.

Watching a lot of shows, unfortunately. April was a month of big T.V. premieres which means too much time spent on the couch watching: Season 2 of The OA on Netflix, a science fiction/supernatural story about a blind girl who returns to her hometown years after being kidnapped with her sight restored to embark on a strange mission with 5 new friends, Killing Eve, a British drama about a budding obsession between an MI5 agent and the psychotic assassin she’s tasked with bringing to justice, oh, and Game of Thrones on HBO, of course, a sprawling fantasy about the fictional world of Westeros and the fight to sit on the iron throne and rule the seven kingdoms, and Veep, also on HBO, a comedy that follows Vice President Selina Meyer and her incompetent staff as they campaign and scheme to win the Presidency.

Learning about Modern and Contemporary Poetry and International Women’s Health and Human Rights a harder course with actual assignments that I am already falling behind on. I only have one short essay to write on which of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are most impacted by the education of young girls. It’s not hard really but I am over thinking it and avoiding it because I’m afraid to fail. It’s as simple and as hard as that.

Feeling anxious, all the time but I’m not sure there is anything I can do about it. Perhaps there is nothing I want to about it. I’m breathing. I’m sleeping. I’m taking care of myself. I’m using lists to keep track of what I need to do and reminding myself that the worst case scenario is never that bad. I’m asking for help when I need it and letting people know how I am. I’m doing my best but no matter what I do I can’t change who I am and who I am is just an anxious person. I’m someone who freaks out, who worries. I’m someone who only knows how to live this way and I’m not sure I’d like a version of me that wasn’t like this.

Reflecting on my 2019 failures thus far of which there have been plenty. I haven’t started exercising. I haven’t written anything of interest. I haven’t made any progress on my book project. I haven’t started a daily drawing habit. I haven’t done over half of the things I set out to do and I’d like to work out why. I’d like to figure out if I’m setting myself up for failure by trying to do too much or if there is some fundamental problem with my day-to-day routine that I am not seeing. I have a feeling it is a bit of both but rather than guessing I would really like to document and then examine every hour, every minute, of how I am spending my life.

Fearing what my life will be like after the wedding. Married life will be a breeze I am sure considering that we’ve already been together almost 17 years and living together for over 15 of those. No, what I am afraid of is simply what comes next. What will we do with our days if we aren’t stressing anymore over this event? We’ve been engaged for so long I’m afraid of the boredom, the contentment, the void that will come after. I’m afraid both of what big life changes we’ll turn our attention to next, and of having no big life changes to make. I’m sure though that there is plenty we could come up with: career changes, college, a new house, kids?

Hating work. I don’t mean that I hate my job. As far as jobs go mine is a good one, not to stressful, not too physically demanding, and highly rewarding compared to others. I like my job but having to have any job at all is kind of a drag, you know? I don’t mind work when I am in the mood for work but work doesn’t work that way. Work wants you there every day on their terms. I wish I had more flexibility. I wish I had more say. I wish I had more days for me, you know? And when I look around at my coworkers, and think about all the people in the world who are probably working worse job and longer hours with more pressure and discomfort I feel enraged by the hours of life we all have to give away before we can afford a basic level of happiness, comfort, and dignity.

Loving myself. I’ll always be a little depressed, a little anxious, and I’ll always have a hard time with myself, but this life, this body, this history, this future, this potential, and yes, even all this pain is all I have. I have to love it. I have to be grateful for it, and I truly, truly am. This April marked 34 years around the sun and like every April I’ve spent on this Earth I celebrated that victory with my whole heart. I let myself be joyous and I let myself be loved. I demanded it! I deserved it. Life is hard and I earn every year I get and I show myself some appreciation for all that effort.

Needing my friends. The over 30 life means having finally established real and deep friendships with people who are open, generous, and kind but who have busy schedules, family obligations, and workplace burn out and fatigue, the same as you. They have lives to live, things to do, and sleep to catch up on and it never fails that once they are able to make the time you are in the midst of your own obligations, errands, events, and crises and when you are ready, they are back in the shit again. Around and around you go and no matter how much you try or how much you all miss one another there never seems to be more than one or two open evenings to get together a year.

Hoping that I can just keep on going. I read Austin Kleon’s newest book Keep Going and like all self-help and advice type books; it told me what I already knew and gave me permission to do what I already longed to and now I hope I can just do it every single day. I’m hoping that doing the work daily—even when I’m aren’t sure what the work is or what I’m working toward—will lead me to the place I need to be. I get bogged down worrying about marketing, monetization, followers, and content and I can’t ever move forward because deep down I know that is not what I care about. I hope I can follow my passion first, day in and day out, and all the rest will come after when I’m ready.


So, yeah, all in all, April was a wonderful month, I knew it would be because it always is. No matter what goes wrong April reminds be to be grateful I’m alive. I’m honestly sad to move on to May, a month, like March, that falls in-between. A month of boredom and anxiety as I move on from celebrating the self and wait for the summer months when I truly come alive.

But what about you? How did April treat you? Are the cherry blossoms and the tulips blooming where you are? What are you looking forward to in May? What are you looking forward to after? How are you coping with the passing of time and the middle of the year approaching so quickly?

Let me know in the comments.

“April is over, April is over. There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice.” 

F. Scott Fitzgerald


The inspiration for these posts comes from Andrea at Create.Share.Love

Photo by Irina Iriser on Unsplash